State of Utah, in the interest of C.R.C., a person under eighteen years of age.
State of Utah, Appellee. S.C. and D.C., Appellants,
District Juvenile Court, Vernal Department The Honorable Ryan
B. Evershed No. 1142757.
Adams and Jeffry K. Ross, Attorneys for Appellant S.C.
Erin Bradley, Attorney for Appellant D.C.
D. Reyes, Carol L.C. Verdoia, and John M. Peterson, Attorneys
Pierce, Guardian ad Litem.
Kate Appleby authored this Opinion, in which Judges Ryan M.
Harris and Diana Hagen concurred.
S.C. (Mother) and D.C. (Father) (collectively, Parents)
appeal the juvenile court's termination of their parental
rights as to C.R.C. (Child). Mother argues that insufficient evidence
supported the juvenile court's determination that grounds
existed to terminate her rights. Parents also argue that
terminating their rights is not in Child's best interest.
In early 2017, police discovered that Father had downloaded
hundreds of photographs and videos of child pornography. Many
of the images involved children as young as newborns and
toddlers. Father admitted to downloading the images and was
arrested. He has been incarcerated since. Police informed
Mother of the allegations against Father and warned her that
Child, who was born shortly after Father's arrest, was
not safe around him. Mother was advised to seek a protective
order for Child against Father, but she never sought one.
Police eventually obtained an ex parte protective order on
Child's behalf. The protective order prohibited Father
from having contact with Child unless the visit was
supervised by the Division of Child and Family Services
(DCFS). Despite this court order, Mother took Child to the
prison to see Father. This incident was reported to DCFS and
Mother was reminded not to allow contact between Child and
In March 2017, Father was temporarily released from jail to
obtain a psychosexual evaluation. Mother asked if Father
could see Child during his release, but DCFS again instructed
her not to allow contact between them. Mother ignored these
instructions and allowed Father to spend "unfettered and
unsupervised" time with Child. Mother told DCFS she
permitted the contact because Father was not a risk to Child.
After this incident came to light, DCFS removed Child from
Mother's custody and Child was placed in foster care.
While Child was in foster care, Mother was required to
complete a reunification plan (Plan), which included, among
other things, (1) establishing safe and stable housing for
herself and Child, (2) maintaining contact with her
caseworker so she could have parent time with Child, (3)
completing a parental fitness evaluation, (4) completing a
parenting class and working with a "peer parent, "
and (5) complying with the no-contact order by preventing
Father from contacting Child.
In accordance with the Plan, Mother sought a parental fitness
evaluation. But the juvenile court concluded that she was
unable to complete it because she "could not understand
many of the questions, even when they were read to her"
and that the "evaluation raised many concerns regarding
Mother's ability to adequately parent" Child. The
evaluation report concluded that Mother has an intelligence
quotient "in the extremely low range of intellectual
classification" and that Mother has an overall
intellectual capacity of a ten- or eleven-year-old child. But
the court noted that Mother improved her housework and
parenting skills after attending behavioral therapy. Overall,
the court concluded that Mother could not be a successful
parent without "maintaining firm boundaries and
obtaining a support system."
Mother attempted to obtain an adequate support system. First,
she identified her own mother (Grandmother) as a potential
supervisor. Grandmother participated in a parental fitness
evaluation, but this demonstrated that she, too, suffered
from serious intellectual deficiencies. The court found that
Grandmother and Mother frequently undermined each other and
that Grandmother had a boyfriend who could not pass a
background check. The court concluded that Grandmother was an
inappropriate supervisor for Mother and Child. Next, Mother
identified her father (Grandfather) as a potential
supervisor. Grandfather resided in Colorado and therefore was
not an option as a long-term supervisor. Finally, Mother
identified a friend (Friend) as a potential supervisor.
Friend agreed to supervise Mother's parent-time ...